Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell
Published by: Penguin
Published on: February 7, 2013
Page Count: 416
Genre: Historical fiction
My Reading Format: Paperback provided by the publisher
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback and Kindle book
The story starts in 1002. Aethelred, the king of England, is seeking a second wife after the death of the queen, who produced for him many children. Fifteen year-old Emma from Normandy has been selected, even though Emma believes her older sister is a better choice. With a handful of familiar Norman faces, Emma makes the journey to England to meet her husband. She quickly realizes that hers won't be a marriage of love, but put in place for one reason: to produce an heir to the throne. Aethelred already has several sons of age to assume the throne if Emma doesn't produce a son quickly enough. One of the problems is Emma is tempted by one of her husband's sons. As a result, she must use her best judgment and cunning to make sure she keeps her position as the queen of England. Elgiva, a member of the court, has her eyes on the king, so Emma has a delicate balance to maintain.
I really liked some aspects of this book but had a hard time with others. The story is paced very well, and I kept the pages turning to see what was going to happen with the characters as the plot progressed. The author wrote several scenes from the perspective of more than just one character present, so I liked that you got to know what more than one character was thinking. What I struggled with as a modern-day reader is the misogyny in this book. It was frustrating at places in the story to know that the female characters were pawns in a male game. Since this book is the first of a trilogy and I have good faith that Elgiva and Emma are worth their salt, I would be interested to see how the series turns out in hopes that the two win in the end.
Three out of five stars
If you liked Shadow on the Crown, you’ll like anything by Philippa Gregory.